Magnetic Plasma Tornadoes Spin in Sun's Atmosphere

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Image from a quicklink They ran a series of computer simulations including both gas and magnetic effects. They found the processes in the photosphere funneled the magnetic field lines into knots of high concentration, which rotate as the gas itself circulates. (This is known as the "bathtub effect," since it rotates in a similar way to the vortex produced in a draining tub of water). The intensity of the magnetic field in turn forces the gas in the chromosphere to follow a spiral trajectory up and away from the Sun's surface, speeding it up during the process. Temperature is related to the average speed in a gas, so higher speeds mean higher temperatures--sufficient to explain the million-degree coronal temperatures.
The number of observed vortices is small, but the results from the current study are sufficiently interesting to merit follow-up observations.

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